[DEBATE] : threat to radical democracy in Venezuela?
p.waterman at inter.nl.net
Fri Sep 28 15:57:00 BST 2007
Yes, David, here is my reaction:
I am not surprised.
And I am not going to cry 'revolution betrayed...again!', because to be my
kind of revolution, it has to be one of society as a whole, to be democratic
I am only somewhat impressed by the innovation here: a Disciplinary
Commission before actually creating a party! Or, rather, The Party.
Wow! Stalin applauds pompously from his gory grave.
The capacity of Hugo Chavez to repeat and even surpass the crimes or
misdemeanours of the old (statist, nationalist and or militarist) Left, do
Thus the love-in with religious fundamentalist Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recalls
the 'Thirdworld Solidarity' of the Bandung period, in which the
anti-imperialist rhetoric of the Presidents and Generals involved was
considered more important than evidence of their minimally democratic
Can't he do business with Iran without slobbering all over a chauvinist and
fundamentalist dictator so stupid he has to exhibit his ignorance of world
history and his anti-semitism (the holocaust denial to which contemporary
fascists are so attached) to the whole world?
'Chavez embraced the Iranian leader, calling him "one of the greatest
anti-imperialist fighters" and "one of the great fighters for true peace."'.
'Bandung' lasted about five years and was brought to nought when Great and
Undying Brothers, India and China, fought a bloody border war over some
Himalayan mountains or passes - just like imperial powers previously
operating in Asia.
And we had better start building up solidarity campaigns and funds for
comrades like Edgardo Lander. I mean before he is denounced as being an
enemy of The Revolution (as defined by the Disciplinary Commission of the
Yet To Be Created Party) and 'objectively the agent of Western Imperialism'.
----- Original Message -----
From: "David McDonald" <dm23 at queensu.ca>
To: "'debate: SA discussion list '" <debate at lists.kabissa.org>
Sent: Friday, September 28, 2007 4:02 PM
Subject: [DEBATE] : threat to radical democracy in Venezuela?
Any reactions to this from Debaters?...
>From the TNI website at http://www.tni.org/detail_page.phtml?act_id=17397
Party disciplinarians: the threat to dissidence and democracy in the United
Socialist Party of Venezuela
28 September 2007
The establishment of a disciplinary tribunal in Chavez's new socialist party
before it even has statutes and structures is a worrying sign for those
committed to radical democracy in Venezuela.
The style of debate and the mechanisms for resolving differences currently
being developed within the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (Partido
Socialista Unido de Venezuela, PSUV) are extremely serious. If its style of
leadership, decision-making structures and dispute mechanisms are not
swiftly reversed, then the new party structure will be one that develops
Stalinist conceptions and practices.
This is not an issue that only concerns present candidates or future members
of this party, but one that concerns the whole of the Venezuelan population,
and the millions of people on this continent and the rest of the world who
are monitoring the present Venezuelan political process with the expectation
that it is possible, in today's world, to confront predatory-militarised
capitalism and take steps towards the construction of another possible
world, a world of radical democracy and never-ending democracy.
This is not about any old party, or about just one more among many parties.
It is about the party of the government (of the State?), the party of
President Chavez, the party which seeks to bring together all the political
sectors that support the government. Its more or less democratic, plural or
participatory nature or, by contrast, more or less vertical or authoritarian
nature, will be the measure of the model of society that it will be possible
to build as a result of the present processes of change that are taking
place in the country. It will not be possible to make progress in the
deepening of democracy, in the construction of an ever more democratic
society, with sustained growth in popular participation if the main
political instrument of the process of change in society, in this case the
PSUV in its formative stage, is not a democratic organisation.
In this regard, the information that has recently been made public with
regard to the creation and operation of the Disciplinary Tribunal of the
PSUV is worrying.
Firstly, what is very striking is that a political party which is in the
process of creation, a party that does not yet have members or doctrinal
documents, has no statutes, and does not yet have organic structures, should
already have a Disciplinary Tribunal in operation, a Tribunal which has
already been sent its first case for consideration.
At the end of August, President Chavez addressed an audience of 'socialist
battalion' members at the Caracas Polyhedron on the subject of the high
level of discipline that every aspiring member of the future revolutionary
party should have, and reported that a 'Provisional Disciplinary Committee
of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela' had been created, presided over
by the governor of Miranda State, Diosdado Cabello
The first action of this Disciplinary Committee came about with regard to
the conduct and declarations made by deputy Francisco Ameliach, who, until
then was the Coordinator of the United Socialist Block in the National
Assembly. As it has publicly transpired, deputy Ameliach had expressed the
opinion that if by the time of regional elections in 2008 the formation of
the PSUV had not concluded, "we will revive the organisations that are
<http://www.tni.org/detail_page.phtml?act_id=17397#2a#2a> 2 , that is, the
Fifth Republic Movement (Movimiento Quinta República, MVR,)
The response by Chavez was devastating:
"I have passed a national leader who aspires to be part of the party to the
Disciplinary Council for talking nonsense. I will be watching closely .
Critical thinking is fundamental to a revolution, but that is very different
to going around talking badly about a party that has not been born,
collecting signatures to present them who knows where. Anyone who wants to
be an anarchist, get out of here, you are not wanted, what is needed here is
a creative, but disciplined active membership."
Immediately, in the National Assembly it was announced that Ameliach was
suspended, or had resigned, first from the Presidency of the National
Assembly's Defence Commission
<http://www.tni.org/detail_page.phtml?act_id=17397#5a#5a> 5, and the next
day, from the Coordination of the Parliament's United Socialist Block
<http://www.tni.org/detail_page.phtml?act_id=17397#6a#6a> 6. His
replacements were named immediately.
Recalling 'self-criticisms' from the past, deputy Ameliach declared a few
days later that it had been his decision to resign from the Presidency of
the National Assembly's Defence Commission and the Coordination of the
United Socialist Block, and that his conduct had been a "political mistake",
confirming his loyalty to the "only leader of the process"
<http://www.tni.org/detail_page.phtml?act_id=17397#7a#7a> 7. He denied the
existence of a letter signed by 140 deputies, and stated that ".what exists
is a draft document that collects some concerns of some deputies that I,
Francisco Ameliach, sent to President Chavez, so that he as leader, can take
the decisions he wishes to take".. "I have been extremely loyal to President
Chavez; here a revolution is impossible without President Chavez".
Despite the severity of the issues at stake, despite the fact that this is
about mechanisms which, if unresolved would point in undoubtedly
authoritarian directions, and of the fact that in private conversations the
concerns about the political implications of these conceptions of the nature
of the organisation being built and of the role of leadership are very
widespread, the public reaction among government supporters has been very
One of the most energetic reactions was that of two members of the National
Assembly, Iris Varela and Luis Tascon
<http://www.tni.org/detail_page.phtml?act_id=17397#9a#9a> 9. They defended
Ameliach and denounced what they considered to be a campaign against the
Francisco Ameliach is a 'Fatherland or Death man' with the revolution and we
have to reject that campaign which was started mainly against him, including
all the deputies who have even branded us traitors.
Nevertheless, this response neither directly questions the existence of a
Disciplinary Tribunal of a party that does not yet exist, nor the use that
has begun to be made of it.
The most direct questioning of the central issues at stake was expressed by
retired General Alberto Müller Rojas, ex-member of the Commission to Promote
the PSUV, who has recently had serious public disagreements with the
Although deputy Francisco Ameliach attacked me, I do not agree with the idea
of establishing a Disciplinary Tribunal in the United Socialist Party of
This breaks the idea of equality among party members and establishes a
bigwig ... [the] understanding of discipline comes from within the
individual, through an educational process, and is not imposed by force,
because then it is no longer discipline, but training, it is alienation.
General Müller believes it is serious that a party that does not yet have
statutes should have a disciplinary committee
Other public dissident voices also exist, people who are clearly identified
with the processes of change that have taken place in the country in the
last few years. These people, who remember the negative consequences of the
undemocratic logics in the political organisations that lead the socialist
processes of the last century, have formulated serious warnings about once
again going down those paths. Examples of these contributions to the debate
can be found in the writings of Javier Biardeau
<http://www.tni.org/detail_page.phtml?act_id=17397#11a#11a> 11 and Reinaldo
Iturriza <http://www.tni.org/detail_page.phtml?act_id=17397#12a#12a> 12.
The absence of other critical declarations by leaders and high-level
officials involved in the Bolivarian process has been notable. This suggests
that either they find it normal that a Disciplinary Tribunal is created
before the party as such exists, and that this Tribunal is used to punish a
high-level leader of the Bolivarian process "for talking nonsense", for
"talking badly about a party that has not been born, collecting signatures
to present them who knows where", that is, for the serious crime of
expressing "dissident opinions". Either that, or they have decided on a
discreet silence due to political cautiousness.
There have, on the other hand, been voices in support of these disciplinary
procedures. Such is the case of Freddy Bernal, Mayor of the Libertador
Municipality, and member of the Presidential Commission of Promoters of the
PSUV. He has said that if any aspiring party member "wants to sabotage the
process of building the party, they will go to the Disciplinary Tribunal and
we will talk to him, and if they do not change their attitude, we will take
the necessary measures".
They should have to identify themselves. The coordinator of the commission,
Jorge Rodríguez, has already said that the only current is the one lead by
the President of the Republic, Hugo Chavez Frias. To those who think they
can have other leaderships we would recommend that they create a separate
party, but noone will sabotage the PSUV from inside
Confirming that these decisions correspond to the conception with which the
PSUV is being created, Diosdado Cabello has declared that the new party will
not be a replica of the MVR, "where people did what they felt like and gave
opinions depending on their mood when they woke-up"
One of the potential advantages of the original dynamic of the formation of
the PSUV is that those who sign up and subsequently become members of a
party in the process of construction, will be able to participate in the
definition of its basic doctrinal and organisational conceptions in an
effective and democratic way. This possibility, which requires a patient
practical learning of a culture of democratic debate, would disappear if
divergent opinions were to be forbidden through the use of disciplinarily
methods. In the absence of official doctrinal documents for the
organisation, and given the wide range of existing ideological and political
positions in this process
<http://www.tni.org/detail_page.phtml?act_id=17397#15a#15a> 15, it is not
known what the criteria and the principles are from which it is possible to
determine which positions are acceptable - ie. compatible with the party
line - and which are not. It would be very dangerous for the democratic
future of the organisation if agreement or disagreement with the opinions of
the maximum leader were accepted as the criteria through which the limits of
orthodoxy or dissidence were defined. This would mean substituting debate
and the confrontation of ideas -a particularly crucial issue in this phase
of basic definitions of the party- with appeals to the criteria of
authority. Were this course to be consolidated, the Stalinist mechanisms for
managing the political organisation could not in the future be blamed on
"deviations" or to "mistakes", but rather would become established as the
accepted norms of its running.
<http://www.aporrea.org/actualidad/n100382.html> Informó el Presidente
Chávez: Diosdado Cabello dirigirá Comité Disciplinario del PSUV, Radio
Nacional de Venezuela, 28 de agosto, 2007.
<http://www.tni.org/detail_page.phtml?act_id=17397#2b#2b> 2 Pedro Pablo
Peñaloza, "MVR puede resurgir en elecciones regionales. Ameliach opina que
creación del PSUV no puede atarse a comicios ", El Universal, Caracas, 23 de
<http://www.tni.org/detail_page.phtml?act_id=17397#3b#3b> 3There has also
been mention of an alleged document where he is said to have collected
signatures among deputies in support of his position.
<http://www.tni.org/detail_page.phtml?act_id=17397#4b#4b> 4 Sara Carolina
Díaz y María Daniela Espinoza "Ameliach fuera de Presidencia de la Comisión
de Defensa de la AN. El legislador presentó descargos ante el tribunal
disciplinario del PSUV", El Universal, Caracas, 30 de agosto, 2007.
<http://www.tni.org/detail_page.phtml?act_id=17397#5b#5b> 5 Idem.
<http://www.tni.org/detail_page.phtml?act_id=17397#6b#6b> 6 Pedro Pablo
Peñaloza, "Ameliach apartado del bloque del PSUV. El diputado enfrenta un
'proceso de esclarecimiento' por sus declaraciones", El Universal, Caracas,
31 de agosto, 2007.
<http://www.tni.org/detail_page.phtml?act_id=17397#7b#7b> 7 Pedro Pablo
Peñaloza, "Ameliach admite 'error político' y vuelve a enterrar al MVR.
Abogó por la unidad y dice que entregó 'inquietudes' a Chávez.", El
Universal, Caracas, 6 de septiembre, 2007.
<http://www.aporrea.org/ideologia/n100795.html> Ameliach: el único líder es
el Presidente Hugo Chávez Frías, Aporrea, Caracas, 5 de septiembre, 2007.
According to the version in Aporrea, Ameliach "Clarified that the guidelines
of the PSUV are one, and they are created by the President of the Republic,
and also through the Commission to Promote the PSUV."
<http://www.tni.org/detail_page.phtml?act_id=17397#9b#9b> 9 "Denuncian
campaña contra Francisco Ameliach", El Universal, Caracas, 4 de septiembre,
<http://www.tni.org/detail_page.phtml?act_id=17397#10b#10b> 10 "Müller
rechazó creación de comité disciplinario", El Universal, Caracas, 31 de
<http://www.tni.org/detail_page.phtml?act_id=17397#11b#11b> 11 Javier
Biardeau R, <http://www.aporrea.org/actualidad/a40299.html> ¿Qué queda del
Pensamiento Crítico Socialista?, Aporrea, Caracas, 26 de agosto, 2007.
<http://www.tni.org/detail_page.phtml?act_id=17397#12b#12b> 12 Reinaldo
Iturriza, <http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=55696> Sobre la
disciplina revolucionaria y el 'centralismo democrático realmente
existente', Rebelión, 6 de septiembre, 2007.
<http://www.tni.org/detail_page.phtml?act_id=17397#13b#13b> 13 "Bernal: No
vamos a permitir que nadie por personalismos tuerza el rumbo del PSUV", El
Universal, Caracas, 5 de septiembre, 2007.
<http://www.aporrea.org/actualidad/n100952.html> Cabello: Psuv no será una
copia del MVR, Últimas Noticias, en: Aporrea, Caracas 8 de septiembre, 2007.
<http://www.tni.org/detail_page.phtml?act_id=17397#15b#15b> 15 This
plurality ranges from leaders who have just very recently had their first
contact with the socialist tradition, Chavez's announcement that the PSUV
will not be a "Marxist Leninist" party, (
<http://www.aporrea.org/ideologia/n98401.html> PSUV no será
marxista-leninista porque 'es una tesis dogmática no acorde con la realidad
de hoy', afirma Chávez, Agencia Bolivariana de Noticias, en Aporrea, Caracas
22 de agosto, 2007), to defenders of the most orthodox Leninism.
Translation: Liza Figueroa-Clark
DEBATE mailing list
DEBATE at lists.kabissa.org
No virus found in this incoming message.
Checked by AVG Free Edition.
Version: 7.5.488 / Virus Database: 269.13.33/1034 - Release Date: 27-9-2007
More information about the Debate-list